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II. THE ELEMENTS
 

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4. Thinking Inside

 
(iv) ANOTHER SHIFT OF FOCUS
 

 

I’ve said I believe our inner thoughts shift focus like changing the focal length of a telescope. I’m sure that shifting focus helps keep a long stretch of inner thinking lively. Statement-itis is a danger in FID, as in dialogue.

We have sudden doubts—so a shift into questions. We conduct arguments in our heads—so jump from one standpoint to another. (‘No! It wasn’t like that …’) And never mere flat reasoning, but fears, guilts, hopes, irritations, self-justifications.

A switch between FID and Direct Interior Monologue can also imitate a shift of focal length. FID is the best general form of presentation, I’m not going back on that, but sometimes you want short sharp realisations jumping to the forefront of consciousness. One nifty way of conveying this is by a sudden shift to first person and present tense.

For example (World-Shaker again)
The moment had passed. But Col had no heart for making small talk any more.
     So this is how it will be, he reflected. His future seemed to stretch out ahead in an infinity of wretchedness. He would be always acting a role, while everyone pretended to carry on as normal. He would know what people were really thinking … and they would know he knew … yet nobody would ever speak of it aloud. He was locked into this strange twilight state forever.

So this is how it will be is Direct Interior Monologue. I like to use italics for these short sharp realisations, but it’s totally optional.

The same technique works if you want to convey a particularly intense willed thought—the kind of thought that really might be verbalised. When the ‘Filthy’ girl tells Col, ‘You oughter know about the Changing Room, then,’ Col thinks

     It was hopeless trying reason with a Filthy. And I shouldn’t even be trying, he told himself.
     He turned to the door and raised his voice. ‘Officers!’

The italicised phrase is in first person ‘I’ and present tense, unlike the FID phrase before.

The beauty of this switch into Direct Interior Monologue is that you’re not stuck with it. Once you’ve communicated the sudden moment of intensity or awareness, you can slide back into half-and-half FID again. As in ‘His future seemed to stretch out ahead in an infinity of wretchedness. He would be always acting a role, while everyone pretended to carry on as normal …’

Again, it’s probably contradictory and illogical, but who cares as long as it works?

OTHER THINKING INSIDE TOPICS

(i) DIRECT PRESENTATION

(ii) FREE INDIRECT DISCOURSE

(iii) SLIDING & GLIDING

Other Elements Topics

1. Action

2. Setting   

3. Dialogue

 

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